The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you make tough business decisions?” is by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.
The ability to make good decisions is at the core of being a successful leader. Everyone approaches decision making differently, but there’s one thing no one can afford to do: avoid the decision. If you do, your company will continue to falter until you make up your mind.
So surround yourself with mentors you trust and people whose opinions you respect. Ask them if they’ve ever faced a similar situation and if they have any advice. Take the best snippets from each of your advisors. Remember though, there is rarely only one right way to solve a problem and every business is different. So unless it’s a linear decision, gather all the facts and then form your own opinion.
But perhaps you don’t have a contact who has faced the same situation. Luckily, the world has provided us with a plethora of information at our fingertips. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you. Use the Internet to gather basic information about what others have done in your position. You could even Google it.
Then, be sure to write it all down. Make a spreadsheet with the pros, cons, and possible outcomes. Think about the potential consequences. Worst case scenario — can you live with your choice if all goes wrong? Depending on your risk tolerance, you may or may not be able to deal with that outcome. What I’ve found is that emotion is your enemy. It has a tendency to cloud your judgment. Try to pretend your friend is in this situation and not you. Give your friend advice and remove emotion from the equation.
Above all, understand that the worst decision is indecision. After gathering all the facts and opinions, don’t mull a minute more than you have to. Usually your gut instinct is right — don’t overanalyze things. And definitely don’t be afraid to fail, you can always go back and course correct if necessary.
Unfortunately, tough decisions never go away. With more success, the more problems you’ll encounter. The goal is to learn from your experiences, never make the same mistake twice, and remain poised throughout the process.